Anyone else ever think it would be amazingly cool to be a spy? Exchanging code phrases and trying to remember them? Is that just me? Okay, I may be a little strange then. That’s probably not the only reason I’m strange. We have a monthly game night with friends and one month our friends brought over Codenames and pretty much explained it like that. I knew this was going to get added into our gameschool rotation and our general “playing a game with friends” rotation. It’s nice and easy.
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What is Codenames?
Honestly, I think I may be the last person to discover how cool the Codenames party game is. But, just in case you’re as clueless as I am, here you go.
The group is divided onto two teams, and one person from each team is trying to get the rest of their team to guess the codeword using a one-word clue. It’s that simple, and that complicated.
The tricky part of Codenames
Here’s the catch, you’re trying to find more than one word with your single word.
You have to get your team to guess a word and hopefully make the same associations you do with a word. You’ll say a word, and then the number of cards you think the word is associated with. Then your teammate(s) start pointing to word cards they think fit your word.
If your team guesses the other team’s word, then that team gets credit for it, and you might cover up an innocent bystander.
Those are mildly annoying, but the really scary part, there’s an assassin and if your teammate points to the assassin, game over the other team wins.
Why Codenames is good to use for gameschooling
Codenames is a great way to work on word association. It teaches you to make connections between words and look for connections.
You have to think about what you have in common with your teammates that will cause them to guess the right word.
You’re making inferences and applying what you know of a person and their life to your knowledge.
Each of my kids approaches this in a different way.
Princess can be amazing at this. She is probably the most astute at making the connections but has a hard time translating her brothers’ choices.
Superman greatly amuses me and I’m pretty much the only one who can follow the connections he makes, the much-vaunted twin telepathy is not a thing.
Batman approaches it logically, which can frequently backfire as he does not see any logical connections, so he ends up with “fire, one” as a clue.
You know, now that I’m talking about it, I might just pull it out again, it’s been a few weeks since we played it.
Our tips for playing Codenames party game
A timer is included, but as a general rule, we don’t use it unless someone is taking too long to pick their word.
We allowed short phrases if it was a proper name, so “Rogue’s Gallery” our local game store would be okay, but “Carthago delenda est” would not be.
It probably says something about me that “Carthage must die” was the first short phrase that came to my mind. Maybe we make that joke too often in our family.
More fun games